Tag Archives: American Academy of Family Physicians

Bowel control

Other Names: Bowel incontinence,Fecal incontinence

Description:
Bowel incontinence is the loss of bowel control, leading to an involuntary passage of stool. This can range from occasionally leaking a small amount of stool and passing gas, to completely losing control of bowel movements..CLICK & SEE

You have a bowel control problem if you accidentally pass solid or liquid stool or mucus from your rectum.* Bowel control problems include being unable to hold a bowel movement until you reach a toilet and passing stool into your underwear without being aware of it happening. Stool, also called feces, is solid waste that is passed as a bowel movement and includes undigested food, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells. Mucus is a clear liquid that coats and protects tissues in your digestive system.

Among people over age 65, most surveys find that women experience bowel incontinence more often than men. One to three out of every 1,000 women report a loss of bowel control at least once per month.

To hold stool and maintain continence, the rectum, anus, pelvic muscles, and nervous system must function normally. You must also have the physical and mental ability to recognize and respond to the urge to have a bowel movement.

Ringlike muscles called sphincters close tightly around your anus to hold stool in your rectum until you’re ready to release the stool. Pelvic floor muscles support your rectum and a woman’s vagina and also help with bowel control.

Causes:
Bowel control problems are often caused by a medical issue and can be treated.

*Chronic constipation, causing the muscles of the anus and intestines to stretch and weaken, and leading to diarrhea and stool leakage (see: encopresis)

*Chronic laxative use

*Colectomy or bowel surgery

*Decreased awareness of sensation of rectal fullness

*Emotional problems

*Gynecological, prostate, or rectal surgery

*Injury to the anal muscles due to childbirth (in women)

*Nerve or muscle damage (from trauma, tumor, or radiation)

*Severe diarrhea that overwhelms the ability to control passage of stool

*Severe hemorrhoids or rectal prolapse

*Stress of unfamiliar environment

*A disease or injury that damages your nervous system

*Poor overall health from multiple chronic, or long lasting, illnesses

*A difficult childbirth with injuries to your pelvic floor—the muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support your uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum

Diagnosis:
To diagnose what is causing your bowel control problem, your doctor will take your medical history, including asking the questions listed in “What do I tell my doctor about my bowel control problem?” Your doctor may refer you to a specialist who will perform a physical exam and may suggest one or more of the following tests:

* anal manometry
* anal ultrasound
* magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
* defecography
* flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
* anal electromyography (EMG)

Anal manometry. Anal manometry uses pressure sensors and a balloon that can be inflated in your rectum to check how sensitive your rectum is and how well it works. Anal manometry also checks the tightness of the muscles around your anus. To prepare for this test, you should use an enema and not eat anything 2 hours before the test. An enema involves flushing water or a laxative into your anus using a special squirt bottle. A laxative is medicine that loosens stool and increases bowel movements. For this test, a thin tube with a balloon on its tip and pressure sensors below the balloon is put into your anus. Once the balloon reaches the rectum and the pressure sensors are in the anus, the tube is slowly pulled out to measure muscle tone and contractions. No sedative is needed for this test, which takes about 30 minutes.

Anal ultrasound. Ultrasound uses a tool, called a transducer, that bounces safe, painless sound waves off your organs to create an image of their structure. An anal ultrasound is specific to the anus and rectum. The procedure is performed in a doctor’s office, outpatient center, or hospital by a specially trained technician, and the images are interpreted by a radiologist—a doctor who specializes in medical imaging. A sedative is not needed. The images can show the structure of your anal sphincter muscles.

MRI. MRI machines use radio waves and magnets to produce detailed pictures of your internal organs and soft tissues without using x rays. The procedure is performed in an outpatient center or hospital by a specially trained technician, and the images are interpreted by a radiologist. A sedative is not needed, though you may be given medicine to help you relax if you have a fear of confined spaces. An MRI may include the injection of special dye, called contrast medium. With most MRI machines, you lie on a table that slides into a tunnel-shaped device that may be open ended or closed at one end; some newer machines are designed to allow you to lie in a more open space. MRIs can show problems with your anal sphincter muscles. MRIs can provide more information than anal ultrasound, especially about the external anal sphincter.

Defecography. This x ray of the area around your anus and rectum shows whether you have problems with

* pushing stool out of your body
* the functioning of your anus and rectum
* squeezing and relaxing your rectal muscles

The test can also show changes in the structure of your anus or rectum. To prepare for the test, you perform two enemas. You can’t eat anything for 2 hours before the test. During the test, the doctor fills your rectum with a soft paste that shows up on x rays and feels like stool. You sit on a toilet inside an x-ray machine. The doctor will ask you to first pull in and squeeze your sphincter muscles to prevent leakage and then to strain as if you’re having a bowel movement. The radiologist studies the x rays to look for problems with your rectum, anus, and pelvic floor muscles.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. These tests are similar, but a colonoscopy is used to view your rectum and entire colon, while a flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to view just your rectum and lower colon. These tests are performed at a hospital or outpatient center by a gastroenterologist—a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases. For both tests, a doctor will give you written bowel prep instructions to follow at home. You may be asked to follow a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before either test. The night before the test, you may need to take a laxative. One or more enemas may be needed the night before and about 2 hours before the test.

In most cases, you will be given a light sedative, and possibly pain medicine, to help you relax during a flexible sigmoidoscopy. A sedative is used for colonoscopy. For either test, you will lie on a table while the doctor inserts a flexible tube into your anus. A small camera on the tube sends a video image of your bowel lining to a computer screen. The test can show problems in your lower GI tract that may be causing your bowel control problem. The doctor may also perform a biopsy, a procedure that involves taking a piece of tissue from the bowel lining for examination with a microscope. You won’t feel the biopsy. A pathologist—a doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases—examines the tissue in a lab to confirm the diagnosis.

You may have cramping or bloating during the first hour after these tests. You’re not allowed to drive for 24 hours after a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy to allow the sedative time to wear off. Before the test, you should make plans for a ride home. You should recover fully by the next day and be able to go back to your normal diet.

Anal EMG. Anal EMG checks the health of your pelvic floor muscles and the nerves that control your muscles. The doctor inserts a very thin needle wire through your skin into your muscle. The wire on the needle picks up the electrical activity given off by the muscles. The electrical activity is shown as images on a screen or sounds through a speaker. Another type of anal EMG uses stainless steel plates attached to the sides of a plastic plug instead of a needle. The plug is put in your anus to measure the electrical activity of your external anal sphincter and other pelvic floor muscles. The test can show if there is damage to the nerves that control the external sphincter or pelvic floor muscles by measuring the average electrical activity when you

* relax quietly
* squeeze to prevent a bowel movement
* strain to have a bowel movement

Treatment:
Home Care:
Incontinence is not a hopeless situation. Proper treatment can help most people, and can often eliminate the problem.

Treating bowel incontinence should begin by identifying the cause of the incontinence. There are several ways to strengthen the anal and pelvic muscles and promote normal bowel function.

Rutine pelvic floor exercise  may improve the condition.

FECAL IMPACTION:
Fecal impaction is usually caused by chronic constipation. It leads to a mass of stool that partially blocks the large intestine. If constipation or fecal impaction contributes to fecal incontinence, usually laxatives and enemas are of little help. A health care provider may need to insert one or two fingers into the rectum and break the mass into smaller pieces that can pass more easily.

Take measures to prevent further fecal impaction. Add fiber to your diet to help form normal stool. Use other medications your health care provider recommends. In addition, drink enough fluids and get enough exercise to enhance normal stool consistency.

DIET:
Bowel incontinence often occurs because the rectal sphincter is less able to handle large amounts of liquid stool. Often, simply changing the diet may reduce the occurrence of bowel incontinence.

Certain people develop diarrhea after eating dairy foods because they are unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in most dairy products. Some food additives such as nutmeg and sorbitol may cause diarrhea in certain people.

Adding bulk to the diet may thicken loose stool and decrease its amount. Increasing fiber (30 grams daily) from whole-wheat grains and bran adds bulk to the diet. Psyllium-containing products such as Metamucil can also add bulk to the stools.

Formula tube feedings often cause diarrhea and bowel incontinence. For diarrhea or bowel incontinence caused by tube feedings, talk to your health care provider or dietitian. The rate of the feedings may need to be changed, or bulk agents may need to be added to the formula.

Eating, Diet, and Nutrition:
Changes in your diet that may improve your bowel control problem include

*Eating the right amount of fiber. Fiber can help with diarrhea and constipation. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Fiber supplements sold in a pharmacy or health food store are another common source of fiber to treat bowel control problems. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day for adults and “age plus five” grams for children. A 7-year-old child, for example, should get “7 plus five,” or 12, grams of fiber a day. Fiber should be added to your diet slowly to avoid bloating.

*Getting plenty to drink. Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid a day may help prevent constipation. Water is a good choice. You should avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, milk, or carbonation if they give you diarrhea.

*Kegel exercise  or pelvic floor exercise is very much useful. This exercise
consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Kegel muscles”. The exercise needs to be performed multiple times each day, for several minutes at a time, for one to three months, to begin to have an effect.

MEDICATIONS:
In people with bowel incontinence due to diarrhea, medications such as loperamide (Imodium) may be used to control the diarrhea and improve bowel incontinence.

Other antidiarrheal medications include anti-cholinergic medications (belladonna or atropine), which reduce intestinal secretions and movement of the bowel. Opium derivatives (paregoric or codeine) or diphenoxylate (lomotil), as well as loperamide (Imodium) increase intestinal tone and decrease movement of the bowel.

Other medications used to control bowel incontinence include drugs that reduce water content in the stools (activated charcoal or Kaopectate) or that absorb fluid and add bulk to the stools (Metamucil).

MEDICATION EVALUATION: With your health care provider, review all the medications you take. Certain medications can cause or increase bowel incontinence, especially in older people. These medications include:

*Antacids
*Laxatives

OTHER THERAPIES:
If you often have bowel incontinence, you can use special fecal collection devices to contain the stool and protect your skin from breakdown. These devices consist of a drainable pouch attached to an adhesive wafer. The wafer has a hole cut through the center, which fits over the opening to the anus.

Most people who have bowel incontinence due to a lack of sphincter control, or decreased awareness of the urge to defecate, may benefit from a bowel retraining program and exercise therapies to help restore normal muscle tone.

Special care must be taken to maintain bowel control in people who have a decreased ability to recognize the urge to defecate, or who have impaired mobility that prevents them from independently and safely using the toilet. Such people should be assisted to use the toilet after meals, and promptly helped to the toilet if they have the urge to defecate.

If toileting needs are often unanswered, a pattern of negative reinforcement may develop. In this case people no longer take the correct actions when they feel the urge to have a bowel movement

You may click & See : Toileting safety

SURGERY
People who have bowel incontinence that continues even with medical treatment may benefit from surgery to correct the problem. Several different options exist. The choice of surgery is based on the cause of the bowel incontinence and the person’s general health.

RECTAL SPHINCTER REPAIR
Sphincter repair is performed on people whose anal muscle ring (sphincter) isn’t working well due to injury or aging. The procedure consists of re-attaching the anal muscles to tighten the sphincter and helping the anus close more completely.

GRACILIS MUSCLE TRANSPLANT
In people who have a loss of nerve function in the anal sphincter, gracilis muscle transplants may be performed to restore bowel control. The gracilis muscle is taken from the inner thigh. It is put around the sphincter to provide sphincter muscle tone.

ARTIFICIAL BOWEL SPHINCTER
Some patients may be treated with an artificial bowel sphincter. The artificial sphincter consists of three parts: a cuff that fits around the anus, a pressure-regulating balloon, and a pump that inflates the cuff.

The artificial sphincter is surgically implanted around the rectal sphincter. The cuff remains inflated to maintain continence. You have a bowel movement by deflating the cuff. The cuff will automatically re-inflate in 10 minutes.

FECAL DIVERSION
Sometimes a fecal diversion is performed for people who are not helped by other therapies. The large intestine is attached to an opening in the abdominal wall called a colostomy. Stool passes through this opening to a special bag. You will need to use a colostomy bag to collect the stool most of the time.

Regular Yoga exercise & Meditation under the supervision of an expart  will defenitely help a lot to get rid of the problem.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/bowel-control/Pages/ez.aspx
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003135.htm

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Gestational Diabetes

Definition:
Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (especially during their third trimester). Gestational diabetes is caused when insulin receptors do not function properly. This is likely due to pregnancy-related factors such as the presence of human placental lactogen that interferes with susceptible insulin receptors. This in turn causes inappropriately elevated blood sugar levels.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy. Diagnostic tests detect inappropriately high levels of glucose in blood samples. Gestational diabetes affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied.

As with diabetes mellitus in pregnancy in general, babies born to mothers with untreated gestational diabetes are typically at increased risk of problems such as being large for gestational age (which may lead to delivery complications), low blood sugar, and jaundice. If untreated, it can also cause seizures or stillbirth. Gestational diabetes is a treatable condition and women who have adequate control of glucose levels can effectively decrease these risks. The food plan is often the first recommended target for strategic management of GDM.

Clasifications:
There are two subtypes of gestational diabetes:
Type A1: abnormal oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), but normal blood glucose levels during fasting and two hours after meals; diet modification is sufficient to control glucose levels

Type A2: abnormal OGTT compounded by abnormal glucose levels during fasting and/or after meals; additional therapy with insulin or other medications is required

Approximately 7% of all pregnancies are complicated by GDM, resulting in more than 200,000 cases annually. The prevalence may range from 1 to 14% of all pregnancies, depending on the population studied and the diagnostic tests employed.

Symptoms:
Because gestational diabetes does not cause much symptoms, the patient need to be tested for the condition. This is usually done between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. It is surprised if your test shows a high blood sugar level and is important for the patient to be tested for gestational diabetes, because high blood sugar can cause problems for both the pregnent woman and the baby.Sometimes, a pregnant woman has been living with diabetes without knowing it. If she has the  symptoms of diabetes  and that may include:

*Increased thirst.
*Increased urination.
*Increased hunger.
*Blurred vision.

Pregnancy causes most women to urinate more often and to feel more hungry, so having these symptoms doesn’t always mean that a woman has diabetes.Doctor should be consulted wheather  these symptoms are for diabetes  and then he can suggest for the test of diabetes.

*Infections:
Since diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections, the pregnant woman may experience frequent infections in areas such as the bladder, vagina and skin. White blood cells defend the body against bacteria, but these cells aren’t able to function normally when a person has a high blood sugar. A woman with gestational diabetes may also complain of a yeast infection in the vagina or on the skin. Yeast cells are normally present in the vaginal area in small amounts. The vaginal secretions and urine contain more glucose when a woman has gestational diabetes. The yeast cells use the glucose as food, which causes the cells to multiply. With the body’s immune system compromised by the high level of glucose in the blood, this increase in yeast cells turns into a yeast infection.

*High Blood Sugar:
Since a woman may not have any noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes and symptoms can mimic regular pregnancy symptoms, screening for this condition is part of prenatal care for at-risk women between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. The doctor will initially order a blood test called a glucose challenge test. If the glucose challenge test indicates a high blood sugar level, the doctor may order a glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Both tests involve drinking a sweet glucose solution and having your blood drawn after a prescribed amount of time.

Causes:
Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance as a result of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. That means that their blood sugar may be higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. During the later part of pregnancy (the third trimester), these hormonal changes place pregnant woman at risk for gestational diabetes.

During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones made in the placenta (the organ that connects the baby by the umbilical cord to the uterus) help shift nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. Other hormones are produced by the placenta to help prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar.

They work by resisting the actions of insulin.
Over the course of the pregnancy, these hormones lead to progressive impaired glucose intolerance (higher blood sugar levels). To try to decrease blood sugar levels, the body makes more insulin to get glucose into cells to be used for energy.
Usually, the mother’s pancreas is able to produce more insulin (about three times the normal amount) to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones on blood sugar levels. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.

Risk factors:
Any woman can develop gestational diabetes, but some women are at greater risk. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

*Age greater than 25. Women older than age 25 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
*Family or personal health history. the risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if the woman has prediabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes.the woman is also more likely to develop gestational diabetes if she had it during a previous pregnancy, if the woman delivered a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms), or if she had an unexplained stillbirth.
*Excess weight. You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you’re significantly overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
*Race factor. For reasons that aren’t clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Complications:
Most women who have gestational diabetes deliver healthy babies. However, gestational diabetes that’s not carefully managed can lead to uncontrolled blood

sugar levels and cause problems for patient and the baby, including an increased likelihood of needing a C-section to deliver.

Complications that may affect the baby are:
1.Excessive birth weight. Extra glucose in your bloodstream crosses the placenta, which triggers your baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin. This can cause the baby to grow too large (macrosomia). Very large babies — those that weigh 9 pounds or more — are more likely to become wedged in the birth canal, sustain birth injuries or require a C-section birth.

2.Early (preterm) birth and respiratory distress syndrome. A mother’s high blood sugar may increase her risk of early labor and delivering her baby before its due date. Or her doctor may recommend early delivery because the baby is large.

3.Babies born early may experience respiratory distress syndrome — a condition that makes breathing difficult. Babies with this syndrome may need help breathing until their lungs mature and become stronger. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes may experience respiratory distress syndrome even if they’re not born early.

4.Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Sometimes babies of mothers with gestational diabetes develop low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) shortly after birth because their own insulin production is high. Severe episodes of hypoglycemia may provoke seizures in the baby. Prompt feedings and sometimes an intravenous glucose solution can return the baby’s blood sugar level to normal.

5.Type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies of mothers who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a baby’s death either before or shortly after birth.

Complications that may affect the patient are:
1.High blood pressure and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes raises your risk of high blood pressure, as well as, preeclampsia — a serious complication of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and other symptoms that can threaten the lives of both mother and baby.

2.Future diabetes. If the pregnent woman has gestational diabetes, she is more likely to get it again during a future pregnancy and also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as she gets older. However, making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating healthy foods and exercising can help reduce the risk of future type 2 diabetes.Of those women with a history of gestational diabetes who reach their ideal body weight after delivery, fewer than 1 in 4 eventually develops type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis:
Gestational diabetes usually starts halfway through the pregnancy. All pregnant women should receive an oral glucose tolerance test between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy to screen for the condition. Women who have risk factors for gestational diabetes may have this test earlier in the pregnancy.

Once the pregnent woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she can see how well she is doing by testing the glucose level at home. The most common way involves pricking her finger and putting a drop of the blood on a machine that will give her the glucose reading.

Treatment:
The goals of treatment are to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels within normal limits during the pregnancy, and to make sure that the growing baby is healthy.

Watching the baby:
1.The health care provider should closely check both the patient  and the baby throughout the pregnancy. Fetal monitoring will check the size and health of the fetus.

2.A nonstress test is a very simple, painless test for the patient and the baby.

3.A machine that hears and displays the baby’s heartbeat (electronic fetal monitor) is placed on the abdomen.
The health care provider can compare the pattern of the baby’s heartbeat to movements and find out whether the baby  is doing well.

Diet and exercise:
The best way to improve the pregnent woman’s diet is by eating a variety of healthy foods.She should learn how to read food labels, and check them when making food decisions.The doctor or dietitian  should advice the diet chart and that should be strictly followed  during pregnancy.

In general, when the pregnent woman has gestational diabetes the diet should:
*Be moderate in fat and protein.

#Provide  carbohydrates through foods that include fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice)
Be low in foods that contain a lot of sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries.

#If managing the diet does not control blood sugar (glucose) levels, she may be prescribed diabetes medicine by mouth or insulin therapy.
Most women who develop gestational diabetes will not need diabetes medicines or insulin, but some will.

Prevention:
Theoretically, smoking cessation may decrease the risk of gestational diabetes among smokers.Physical exercise has not been found to have a significant effect of primary prevention of gestational diabetes in randomized controlled trials. It may be effective as tertiary prevention for women who have already developed the condition.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestational_diabetes
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/gestational-diabetes-symptoms
http://www.ehow.com/list_6080912_signs-symptoms-gestational-diabetes.html
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/gestational_diabetes
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/basics/risk-factors/CON-20014854
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/gestational-diabetes/overview.html

Anaphylaxis

Allergy skin testing

Image via Wikipedia

 

Definition:

Anaphylaxis is a rapidly progressing, life-threatening allergic reaction.It is a type of allergic reaction, in which the immune system responds to otherwise harmless substances from the environment. Unlike other allergic reactions, however, anaphylaxis can kill. Reaction may begin within minutes or even seconds of exposure, and rapidly progress to cause airway constriction, skin and intestinal irritation, and altered heart rhythms. In severe cases, it can result in complete airway obstruction, shock, and death.

Anaphylaxis is an acute systemic (multi-system) and severe Type I Hypersensitivity allergic reaction in humans and other mammals. The term comes from the Greek words ana (against) and phylaxis (protection). Minute amounts of allergens may cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis may occur after ingestion, skin contact, injection of an allergen or, in rare cases, inhalation….CLICK & SEE

Anaphylactic shock, the most severe type of anaphylaxis, occurs when an allergic response triggers a quick release from mast cells of large quantities of immunological mediators (histamines, prostaglandins, leukotrienes) leading to systemic vasodilation (associated with a sudden drop in blood pressure) and edema of bronchial mucosa (resulting in bronchoconstriction and difficulty breathing). Anaphylactic shock can lead to death in a matter of minutes if left untreated.

An estimated 1.24% to 16.8% of the population of the United States is considered “at risk” for having an anaphylactic reaction if they are exposed to one or more allergens, especially penicillin and insect stings. Most of these people successfully avoid their allergens and will never experience anaphylaxis. Of those people who actually experience anaphylaxis, up to 1% may die as a result. Anaphylaxis results in approximately 18 deaths per year in the U.S. (compared to 2.4 million deaths from all causes each year in the U.S.). The most common presentation includes sudden cardiovascular collapse (88% of reported cases of severe anaphylaxis).

click to see the pictures

Researchers typically distinguish between “true anaphylaxis” and “pseudo-anaphylaxis or an “anaphylactoid reaction.” The symptoms, treatment, and risk of death are identical, but “true” anaphylaxis is always caused directly by degranulation of mast cells or basophils that is mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE), and pseudo-anaphylaxis occurs due to all other causes. The distinction is primarily made by those studying mechanisms of allergic reactions.

Causes:-
Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction. After an initial exposure (“sensitizing dose”) to a substance like bee sting toxin, the person’s immune system becomes sensitized to that allergen. On a subsequent exposure (“shocking dose”), an allergic reaction occurs. This reaction is sudden, severe, and involves the whole body.

Hives and angioedema (hives on the lips, eyelids, throat, and/or tongue) often occur. Angioedema may be severe enough to block the airway. Prolonged anaphylaxis can cause heart arrhythmias.

Some drugs (polymyxin, morphine, x-ray dye, and others) may cause an “anaphylactoid” reaction (anaphylactic-like reaction) on the first exposure. This is usually due to a toxic reaction, rather than the immune system mechanism that occurs with “true” anaphylaxis. The symptoms, risk for complications without treatment, and treatment are the same, however, for both types of reactions. Some vaccinations are also known to cause “anaphylactoid” reactions. Antitoxins and antivenins may cause similar reactions.

Anaphylaxis can occur in response to any allergen. Common causes include insect bites/stings, food allergies (peanuts and tree nuts are the most common, though not the only), and drug allergies. Pollens and other inhaled allergens rarely cause anaphylaxis. In opthamology, the dye fluorescein used in some eye exams is a well known trigger. Some people have an anaphylactic reaction with no identifiable cause.
Symptoms:-
Symptoms of anaphylaxis are related to the action of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and other anaphylatoxins, which act to release histamine and other mediator substances from mast cells (degranulation). In addition to other effects, histamine induces vasodilation of arterioles and constriction of bronchioles in the lungs, also known as bronchospasm (constriction of the airways).

Tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other substances. This causes constriction of the airways, resulting in wheezing, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Histamine causes the blood vessels to dilate (which lowers blood pressure) and fluid to leak from the bloodstream into the tissues (which lowers the blood volume). These effects result in shock. Fluid can leak into the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs, causing pulmonary edema.

Symptoms can include the following:

*polyuria
*respiratory distress
*hypotension (low blood pressure)
*encephalitis
*fainting
*unconsciousness
*urticaria (hives)
*flushed appearance
*angioedema (swelling of the lips, face, neck and throat): this can be life threatening
*tears (due to angioedema and stress)
*vomiting
*itching
*diarrhoea
*abdominal pain
*anxiety

The time between ingestion of the allergen and anaphylaxis symptoms can vary for some patients depending on the amount of allergen consumed and their reaction time. Symptoms can appear immediately, or can be delayed by half an hour to several hours after ingestion. However, symptoms of anaphylaxis usually appear very quickly once they do begin.

Diagnosis:-

Anaphylaxis is diagnosed based on the rapid development of symptoms in response to a suspect allergen. Identification of the culprit may be done with RAST testing, a blood test that identifies IgE reactions to specific allergens. Skin testing may be done for less severe anaphylactic reactions.

The time between ingestion of the allergen and anaphylaxis symptoms can vary for some patients depending on the amount of allergen consumed and their reaction time. Symptoms can appear immediately, or can be delayed by half an hour to several hours after ingestion. However, symptoms of anaphylaxis usually appear very quickly once they do begin.

Apart from its clinical features, blood tests for tryptase (released from mast cells) might be useful in diagnosing anaphylaxis.

In some cases, it is unclear from the patient interview what triggered the anaphylaxis. In this setting, skin allergy testing (with or without patch testing) or RAST blood tests can sometimes identify the cause.

You may click to see:->Anaphylaxis Flow Chart

Treatment:-

Emergency Treatment
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency because of rapid constriction of the airway, often within minutes of onset, which can lead to respiratory failure and respiratory arrest. Brain and organ damage rapidly occurs if the patient cannot breathe. Due to the severe nature of the emergency, patients experiencing or about to experience anaphylaxis require the help of advanced medical personnel. First aid measures for anaphylaxis include rescue breathing (part of CPR). Rescue breathing may be hindered by the constricted airways, but if the patient stops breathing on his or her own, it is the only way to get oxygen to him or her until professional help is available.

.A woman being treated in an emergency department after going into anaphylactic shock

.The primary treatment for anaphylaxis is administration of epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine prevents worsening of the airway constriction, stimulates the heart to continue beating, and may be life-saving. Epinephrine acts on Beta-2 adrenergic receptors in the lung as a powerful bronchodilator (i.e. it opens the airways), relieving allergic or histamine-induced acute asthmatic attack or anaphylaxis. If the patient has previously been diagnosed with anaphylaxis, he or she may be carrying an EpiPen or Twinject for immediate administration of epinephrine. However, use of an EpiPen or similar device only provides temporary and limited relief of symptoms.

Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) results from stimulation of Beta-1 adrenergic receptors of the heart increasing contractility (positive inotropic effect) and frequency (chronotropic effect) and thus cardiac output.[10] Repetitive administration of epinephrine can cause tachycardia and occasionally ventricular tachycardia with heart rates potentially reaching 240 beats per minute, which itself can be fatal. Extra doses of epinephrine can sometimes cause cardiac arrest. This is why some protocols advise intramuscular injection of only 0.3–0.5mL of a 1:1,000 dilution.

Some patients with severe allergies routinely carry preloaded syringes containing epinephrine, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and dexamethasone (Decadron) whenever they go to an unknown or uncontrolled environment.

You may click to see:->First Aid for Anaphylaxis
Clinical care
Paramedic treatment in the field includes administration of epinephrine IM; antihistamines IM (such as chlorphenamine or diphenhydramine); steroids, such as hydrocortisone or dexamethasone; IV Fluid administration and in severe cases, pressor agents (which cause the heart to increase its contraction strength) such as dopamine for hypotension, administration of oxygen, and intubation during transport to advanced medical care.

In severe situations with profuse laryngeal edema (swelling of the airway), cricothyrotomy or tracheotomy may be required to maintain oxygenation. In these procedures, an incision is made through the anterior portion of the neck, over the cricoid membrane, and an endotracheal tube is inserted to allow mechanical ventilation of the patient.

The clinical treatment of anaphylaxis by a doctor and in the hospital setting aims to treat the cellular hypersensitivity reaction as well as the symptoms. Antihistamine drugs such as diphenhydramine or chlorphenamine (which inhibit the effects of histamine at histamine receptors) are continued but are usually not sufficient in anaphylaxis, and high doses of intravenous corticosteroids such as dexamethasone or hydrocortisone are often required. Hypotension is treated with intravenous fluids and sometimes vasopressor drugs. For bronchospasm, bronchodilator drugs (e.g. salbutamol, known as Albuterol in the United States) are used. In severe cases, immediate treatment with epinephrine can be lifesaving. Supportive care with mechanical ventilation may be required.

It is also possible to undergo a second reaction prior to medical attention or using an Epipen. It is suggested to seek one to two days of medical care.

The possibility of biphasic reactions (recurrence of anaphylaxis) requires that patients be monitored for four hours after being transported to medical care for anaphylaxis.

Many anaphylactic patients will be sent home or released after the initial reaction is declared over. Yet, rebound reactions are almost always bound to happen. Most people with anaphylaxis have a rebound a few hours after the initial reaction, yet there are cases where a rebound would occur after as much time as a week.
Planning for emergency treatment:-
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America advises patients prone to anaphylaxis to have an “allergy action plan” on file at school, home, or in their office to aid others in case of an anaphylactic emergency, and provides a free “plan” form. Action plans are considered essential to quality emergency care. Many authorities advocate immunotherapy to prevent future episodes of anaphylaxis.

Beta-blockers may aggravate anaphylactic reactions and interfere with treatment.

Prognosis:
The rapidity of symptom development is an indication of the likely severity of reaction: the faster symptoms develop, the more severe the ultimate reaction. Prompt emergency medical attention and close monitoring reduces the likelihood of death. Nonetheless, death is possible from severe anaphylaxis. For most people who receive rapid treatment, recovery is complete.

Prevention:-
Immunotherapy with Hymenoptera venoms is especially effective and widely used throughout the world and is accepted as an effective treatment for most patients with allergy to bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, white faced hornets, and fire ants.

Avoidance of the allergic trigger is the only reliable method of preventing anaphylaxis. For insect allergies, this requires recognizing likely nest sites. Preventing food allergies requires knowledge of the prepared foods or dishes in which the allergen is likely to occur, and careful questioning about ingredients when dining out. Use of a Medic-Alert tag detailing drug allergies is vital to prevent inadvertent administration during a medical emergency.

People prone to anaphylaxis should carry an “Epipen” or “Ana-kit,” which contain an adrenaline dose ready for injection.

The greatest success with prevention of anaphylaxis has been the use of allergy injections to prevent recurrence of sting allergy. The risk to an individual from a particular species of insect depends on complex interactions between likelihood of human contact, insect aggression, efficiency of the venom delivery apparatus, and venom allergenicity. According to most authorities, venom immunotherapy has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of systemic reactions below 1% to 3%. One simple method of venom extraction has been electrical stimulation to obtain venom, instead of dissecting the venom sac. An allergist will then provide venom immunotherapy which is highly efficacious in preventing future episodes of anaphylaxis.

A vaccine has been in the works to prevent anaphylaxis from peanuts and tree nuts. Despite showing significant promise to prevent individuals with the allergy from developing anaphylaxis if eating a small amount of the food, the FDA has not yet approved the vaccine.

You may click to see:->

Mast Cell Disorder

Allergy

Slow reacting substance of anaphylaxis

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis

.Paediatric Allergy – anaphylaxis

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

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Seborrhea Dermatitis


An infant with Cradle CapImage via Wikipedia

Definition: Seborrhea (say: seb-uh-ree-uh) is a common skin problem. It causes a red, itchy rash and white scales. When it affects the scalp, it is called “dandruff.” It can be on parts of the face as well, including the folds around the nose and behind the ears, the forehead, and the eyebrows and eyelids. On the body, seborrhea often occurs in the middle part of the chest, around the navel and in the skin folds under the arm, below the breasts and in the groin and buttocks area.

Seborrhoeic eczema (also Seborrheic dermatitis AmE, seborrhea) is a skin disorder affecting the scalp, face, and trunk causing scaly, flaky, itchy, red skin. It particularly affects the sebum-gland rich areas of skin.

click to see the pictures…..(01)...…(1)..……..(2).…..…(3)....………………….

Who gets seborrhea?
Infants may get seborrhea. It’s known as “cradle cap.” Cradle cap goes away after about 6 months. It may also affect the diaper area and look like a diaper rash.

Seborrhea also affects adults and elderly persons, and is more common in men than in women. Seborrhea occurs more frequently in persons with oily skin.

It affects 3 percent of the general population. It occurs more commonly in older people who are bedridden or have neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Seborrhea also affects almost 85 percent of people with AIDS.

Causes:The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not fully understood, although many factors have been implicated.. It is likely that a number of factors, such as hormones and stress, can cause it.
The widely present yeast, Malassezia furfur (formerly known as Pityrosporum ovale), is involved, as well as genetic, environmental, hormonal, and immune-system factors. A theory that seborrhoeic dermatitis is an inflammatory response to the yeast has not been proven. Those afflicted with seborrhoeic dermatitis have an unfavourable epidermic response to the infection, with the skin becoming inflamed and flaking.

Acute form of seborrhoeic dermatitis on scalpIn children, excessive vitamin A intake can cause seborrhoeic dermatitis. Lack of biotin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and riboflavin (vitamin B2) may also be a cause.

It is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that affects the areas of the head and trunk that have sebaceous glands. A type of yeast that has an affinity for these glands called Pityrosporum ovale may be the cause, but this has not been proven yet. It is believed that the build-up of yeast in these glands irritates the skin causing redness and flaking.

Seborrhea is more common in men than women and affects 3 percent of the general population. It occurs more commonly in older people who are bedridden or have neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Seborrhea also affects almost 85 percent of people with AIDS.

Diagnosis:

Clinical Manifestations
Seborrheic dermatitis typically affects areas of the skin where sebaceous glands appear in high frequency and are most active. The distribution is classically symmetric, and common sites of involvement are the hairy areas of the head, including the scalp , the scalp margin , eyebrows, eyelashes, mustache and beard. Other common sites are the forehead , the nasolabial folds , the external ear canals and the postauricular creases. Seborrhea of the trunk may appear in the presternal area and in the body folds, including the axillae, navel, groin, and in the inframammary and anogenital areas. Figure 7 illustrates the typically symmetric distribution of seborrheic dermatitis.

More severe seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by erythematous plaques frequently associated with powdery or greasy scale in the scalp (Figure 8), behind the ears (Figure 9) and elsewhere in the distribution described above. Besides an itchy scalp, patients may complain of a burning sensation in facial areas affected by seborrhea. Seborrhea frequently becomes apparent when men grow mustaches or beards and disappears when the facial hair is removed. If left untreated, the scale may become thick, yellow and greasy and, occasionally, secondary bacterial infection may occur.

Seborrheic dermatitis is more common in men than in women, probably because sebaceous gland activity is under androgen control. Seborrhea usually first appears in persons in their teens and twenties and generally follows a waxing/waning course throughout adulthood.

UV-A and UV-B light inhibit the growth of P. ovale,9 and many patients report improvement in seborrhea during summer.

Treatment:
Soaps and detergents such as sodium laureth sulfate may precipitate a flare-up, as they strip moisture from the top layers of the skin, and the drying property of these can cause flare-ups and may worsen the condition. Accordingly a suitable alternative should be used instead.

Among dermatologist recommended treatments are shampoos containing coal tar, ciclopiroxolamine, ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione. For severe disease, keratolytics such as salicylic acid or coal tar preparations may be used to remove dense scale. Topical terbinafine solution (1%) has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of scalp seborrhoea, as may lotions containing alpha hydroxy acids or corticosteroids (such as fluocinolone acetonide). Pimecrolimus topical lotion is also sometimes prescribed.

Chronic treatment with topical corticosteroids may lead to permanent skin changes, such as atrophy and telangiectasia.

UV-A and UV-B light inhibit the growth of M. furfur, although caution should be taken to avoid sun damage.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians(AAFP), one treatment that has proven successful, especially when steroid topicals and shampoos aren’t working, and the patient continues to suffer from rapid hair loss and rashes, has been low doses(10mg-30mg daily) of the perscription drug Accutane,(Isotretinoin). The exact mechanism isn’t known, but it is thought to work by reducing sebum, which plays an important role in seborrhoeic dermatitis. Patients should be evaluated monthly, while examing the proper liver functions when putting a patient on accutane therapy. Special screening should be in place for women patients, because of the risk of birth defects. This therapy can last, when the condition is chronic and the isotretinoin does is low, for years. But, patients should be given a one to two month break off this particular therapy every 6 months to see if the condition still is affecting the patient

Adults who have seborrhea usually experience a waxing and waning course. In other words it can’t be “cured”. The good news is with proper maintenance, seborrhea can be controlled. Furthermore, most of the treatments can be found over-the-counter.

Treatment will help keep seborrhea under control. It’s important to keep your body clean.

Dandruff Shampoo
If you have dandruff, use medicated shampoos.

When using dandruff shampoo, first wet your hair. Rub some shampoo into your scalp and hair. Leave the shampoo on your scalp and hair for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse it out. Use the dandruff shampoo every day until your dandruff goes away. Then use the medicated shampoo 2 or 3 times a week to keep dandruff away. Having dandruff does not mean that your scalp is too dry! Dandruff comes because you need to wash your hair more often.

Medicated Shampoos should always be used.For black persons, daily shampooing may not be needed. Ask your doctor about a special steroid preparation in oil that can be used on the scalp like a pomade. Or you can use a steroid-containing shampoo.

Adults who have seborrhea usually experience a waxing and waning course. In other words it can’t be “cured”. The good news is with proper maintenance, seborrhea can be controlled. Furthermore, most of the treatments can be found over-the-counter.

Proper hygiene plays an important role in treatment. Frequent washing with soap gets rid of the oils in the affected areas and improves symptoms. Sunlight inhibits the growth of the yeast; therefore exposure of affected areas to sun is helpful, although caution should be exercised to avoid sun damage. The main medical treatments are antifungal shampoos and topical.

Cradle Cap:
Cradle cap in infants also gets better with daily shampooing. First try a mild, nonmedicated baby shampoo. If that doesn’t work, try an a dandruff shampoo. If the patch of cradle cap is large and thick, first try softening it by rubbing on warm mineral oil. Next, gently brush with a baby hairbrush. Then use shampoo.

Seborrhea Shampoos
There are several good antifungal shampoos on the market that can be purchased without a prescription. The main shampoos are selenium sulfide found in Selsun, pyrithione zinc found inHead & Shouldersulders and Sebulon, coal tar found in Sebutone and Tegrin, and finally ketoconazole found in Nizoral.

All of these shampoos have a medicated smell. The way to use them is to shampoo and leave on for at least 10 minutes then rinse off. The shampoos can be used on the face and other parts of the body as a lotion with the same instructions as long as precaution is used around the eyes. Do this daily until the redness and flaking is controlled then use 2-3 times a week as needed to keep symptoms from returning.

Topical Steroids For Seborrhea
Topical steroids reduce the inflammatory response and help control itching. You can buy hydrocortisone cream 1% over-the-counter, and it’s safe to use on the face. Apply twice a day to the affected area until the redness resolves. Save the hydrocortisone for flare-ups and use the antifungal shampoo for maintenance because long-term steroid use can cause side effects like acne and thinning of the skin.

Herbal Treatment:The World Health Organization mentions Aloe vera gel as a yet to be scientifically proven traditional medicine treatment for Seborrhoeic dermatitis.

*Arctium lappa (Burdock) oil
*Chelidonium majus (Celandine)
*Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)
*Melaleuca (Tea tree) species
*Plantago (Plantain) species
*Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
*Zingiber officinale (Ginger) root juice
*Ledebouriella Seseloides (Fang Feng)
*Smilax China (Smilax china)
*Trichosanthes Kirilowii (Snakegourd)
*Glycyrrhiza Uralensis
*Coptis Chinensis (Chinese goldthread)
*Phellodendron Amurense (Huang Bai)
*Sophora Flavescens
*Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola)
*Evening primrose,
*dandelion root
*red clover Norwegian kelp
* berberine (from barberry, Oregon grape root or goldenseal).

Quik Tip: Evening primrose – anti-inflammatory herb of the first magnitude; it helps your

body balance itself hormonally, too.

Click to learn more about Seborrheic Dermatitis


Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seborrheic_dermatitis
http://www.herbnews.org/seborrheadone.htm
http://dermatology.about.com/cs/seborrhea/a/sebderm.htm
http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000501/2703.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum

 

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Sleep Disorders

Definition :
Sleep disorders involve any difficulties related to sleeping, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, falling asleep at inappropriate times, excessive total sleep time, or abnormal behaviors associated with sleep.

.Click to  see the pictures

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions characterized by disturbance in the amount, quality, or timing of a person’s sleep. They also include emotional and other problems that may be related to sleep. There are about seventy different sleep disorders. Short-term, temporary changes in a person’s sleep pattern are not included in sleep disorders.

Description:

Sleep disorders are divided into two major categories. One category consists of disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This category also includes disorders in which a person may fall asleep at inappropriate times. Conditions of these kinds are called dyssomnias. A second category of sleep disorders includes those in which people experience physical events while they are sleeping. Nightmares and sleepwalking are examples of these disorders. Conditions of this type are called parasomnias.

The following are some examples of each type of sleep disorder:

Dyssomnias

  • Insomnia. Insomnia (see insomnia entry) is perhaps the most common of all sleep disorders. About 35 percent of all adults in the United States experience insomnia during any given year. People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep. Often people with this disorder worry or become anxious about not being able to sleep, which can make the problem even worse. Insomnia may begin at any time in a person’s life. It tends to be most common in young adulthood and middle age.
  • Hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is a condition in which a person is excessively sleepy during normal waking hours. The person may often fall asleep for lengthy periods during the day, even if he or she has had a good night’s sleep. In some cases, patients have difficulty waking up in the morning. They may seem confused or angry when they awaken. About 5 to 10 percent of people who seek help for sleep disorders have hypersomnia. The condition is most common in young adults between the ages of fifteen to thirty.
  • Narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is characterized by sleep attacks over which patients have no control. They may fall asleep suddenly with no warning. The sleep attack may last a few minutes or a few hours. The number of attacks patients experience can vary. People with narcolepsy usually feel refreshed after awakening from a sleep attack but they may become sleepy again a few hours later and experience another attack.

Three other conditions are often associated with narcolepsy: cataplexy, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Cataplexy is the sudden collapse of a person’s muscles. The person may become completely limp and fall to the ground. A person may also experience hallucinations. Hallucinations are sounds and sights that a person experiences that do not exist in the real world. Sleep paralysis occurs when a person is just falling asleep or just waking up. The person may want to move, but is unable to do so for a few moments.

  • Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea (pronounced AP-nee-uh) is a condition in which a person actually stops breathing for ten seconds or more. The most common symptom of sleep apnea is very loud snoring. Patients with this condition alternate between periods of snoring or gasping and periods of silence.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders. The term circadian (pronounced sir-CAYD-ee-uhn) rhythm refers to the usual cycle of activities, such as waking and sleeping that is common to any form of life. Most people are accustomed to falling asleep after it gets dark out and waking up when it gets light. In certain conditions, this pattern can be disrupted. A person may fall asleep as the sun comes up and wake up as the sun goes down. An example of a circadian sleep disorder is jet lag. People who fly suddenly across many time zones may have their sleep patterns disrupted. It may take a few days before those patterns return to normal.

Sleep Disorders: Words to Know

Apnea:
A temporary pause in one’s breathing pattern. Sleep apnea consists of repeated episodes of temporary pauses in breathing during sleep.
Brainstem:
Portion of the brain that connects the spinal cord to the forebrain and the cerebrum.
Cataplexy:
A sudden loss of muscular control that may cause a person to collapse.
Circadian rhythm:
Any body pattern that follows a twenty-four-hour cycle, such as waking and sleeping.
Insomnia:
Difficulty in falling asleep or in remaining asleep.
Jet lag:
A temporary disruption of the body’s sleep/wake rhythm caused by high-speed air travel through different time zones.
Narcolepsy:
A sleep disorder characterized by sudden sleep attacks during the day and often accompanied by other symptoms, such as cataplexy, temporary paralysis, and hallucinations.
Polysomnograph:
An instrument used to measure a patient’s body processes during sleep.
Restless leg syndrome:
A condition in which a patient experiences aching or other unpleasant sensations in the calves of the legs.
Sedative:
A substance that calms a person. Sedatives can also cause a person to feel drowsy.
Stimulant:
A substance that makes a person feel more energetic or awake. A stimulant may increase organ activity in the body.
Somnambulism:
Also called sleepwalking, it refers to a range of activities a patient performs while sleeping, from walking to carrying on a conversation.

Parasomnias

  • Nightmare disorder. Nightmare disorder is a condition in which a person is awakened from sleep by frightening dreams. Upon awakening, the person is usually fully awake. About 10 to 50 percent of children between the ages of three and five have nightmares. The condition is most likely to occur in children and adults who are under severe stress.
  • Sleep terror disorder. Sleep terror disorder occurs when a patient awakens suddenly crying or screaming. The patient may display other symptoms, such as sweating and shaking. Upon awakening, the patient may be confused or disoriented for several minutes. He or she may not remember the dream that caused the event. Sleep may return in a matter of minutes. Sleep terror disorder is common in children four to twelve years of age. The condition tends to disappear as one grows older. Less than one percent of adults have the disorder.
  • Sleepwalking disorder. Sleepwalking disorder is also called somnambulism (pronounced suhm-NAHM-byoo-LIHZ-uhm). The condition is characterized by a variety of behaviors, of which walking is only one. Sleepwalkers may also eat, use the bathroom, unlock doors, and carry on conversations. If awakened, sleepwalkers may be disoriented. They may have no memory of their sleepwalking experience. About 10 to 30 percent of children have at least one sleepwalking experience. The occurrence among adults is much lower, amounting to about 1 to 5 percent of all adults.

A few sleep disorders are related to some physical or mental disorder. The three conditions that fall into his category include:

  • Sleep disorders related to mental disorders. Many types of mental illness can cause sleep disorders. People who have severe mental illness, for example, may develop chronic (long-lasting) insomnia.
  • Sleep disorders due to physical conditions. Physical illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease (see Parkinson’s disease entry), encephalitis (see encephalitis entry), brain disease, and hyperthyroidism may cause sleep disorders.
  • Substance-induced sleep disorders. The use of certain types of drugs can lead to sleep disorders. The most common of these drugs are alcohol and caffeine. Certain types of medications can also cause sleep disorders. Antihistamines, steroids, and medicines used to treat asthma are examples.

Causes:

More than 100 different disorders of sleeping and waking have been identified. They can be grouped in four main categories:

  • Problems with falling and staying asleep
  • Problems with staying awake
  • Problems with adhering to a regular sleep schedule
  • Sleep-disruptive behaviors

In many cases, the cause of a sleep disorder is not known. In other cases, researchers know at least part of the reason the disorder occurs. Some examples include:

  • Insomnia. Insomnia may be caused by emotional experiences or concerns such as marital problems, problems at work, feelings of guilt, or concerns about health. A person may become so distraught that sleep is impossible. Insomnia often becomes worse when patients worry about the condition. In such cases, the worry itself becomes another cause for the disorder.
  • Hypersomnia. One possible cause of hypersomnia is restless legs syndrome. Restless legs syndrome is the name given to cramps and twitches a person may experience in the calves of the legs during sleep. These sensations may keep a person awake and lead to sleep episodes during the day.
  • Narcolepsy. The cause of narcolepsy is currently not known.
  • Sleep apnea. The most common cause of sleep apnea is blockage of the airways. The condition occurs most commonly in people who are over-weight. The snoring and gasping that are typical of apnea are caused by the person’s trying to catch his or her breath. Less commonly, sleep apnea is caused by damage to the brainstem.
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are caused when people are forced to adjust to new dark/light patterns. An example is a worker whose assignment is changed from the day shift to the night shift. The worker must learn how to sleep when it’s light out and to work when it’s dark out.

The causes of most parasomnias are not well understood. In some cases, severe stress may be responsible for the condition. In other cases, it is not clear what the cause for the disorder is.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of most sleep disorders are obvious from the descriptions above. A person with insomnia, for example, tends to be very tired during the day. A person with nightmare disorder displays the disturbed behavior typical of a person who has been awakened from sleep by a bad dream.

 

  • Awakening in the night
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of stopped breathing
  • Sleep attacks during the day
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Loss of memory (or complaints of decreased memory)
  • Lower leg movements during sleep

The symptoms may vary with the particular disorder.
Diagnosis:
A beginning point in diagnosing sleep disorders is an interview with the patient and his or her family. From this interview may come a list of symptoms that suggests one or another form of sleep disorder. For example, very loud snoring may be an indication that the patient has sleep apnea. Sleepwalking is, itself, enough of a symptom to permit diagnosis of the condition.

Doctors use a number of other tools to diagnose the exact type of sleep disorder a patient has experienced. Some of these tools include:

*Sleep logs. Patients are asked to record everything about their sleep experiences they can remember. The log might include symptoms, time of appearance, severity, and frequency. Events in the person’s life may also be recorded as possible clues to the cause of the disorder.

*Psychological testing. Some sleep disorders are caused by emotional problems in a person’s life. Those problems may be identified by means of certain tests. Examples of these tests are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Zung Depression Scale.

*Laboratory tests. Techniques have now been developed to observe and record a patient’s behavior during sleep. The most common device used is called a polysomnograph. this device measures a person’s breathing, heart rate, brain waves, and other physical functions during sleep. Various types of sleep disorder can be identified based on these measurements.
Exams and Tests :

*Polysomnography (recording brain activity, muscle activity and breathing during sleep)

……….….click & see

The most common device to use to test for sleeping disorders is called a polysomnograph. This device measures a person’s breathing, heart rate, brain waves, and other physical functions during sleep. (Photograph by Russell D. Curtis. Reproduced by permission of the National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc.)

*Multiple sleep latency test — a daytime test that uses polysomnography during multiple brief nap periods

Treatment:
The choice of treatment for a sleep disorder depends on the cause of the disorder, if it is known. For example, some people develop insomnia because they have become depressed. The solution to this problem is not to treat the insomnia, but to treat the depression (see depression entry). The patient may be given antidepressants or counseling to improve his or her emotional outlook. If this treatment is successful, the insomnia usually disappears on its own.

In many cases, however, the sleep disorder itself may be treated directly. The five forms of treatment that can be used are medications, psychotherapy, sleep education, lifestyle changes, and surgery.

Medications:
One might expect that insomnia should be treated with a sedative (a substance that helps a person relax and fall asleep). But sedatives provide only temporary relief from insomnia. They do not cure the underlying cause for the disorder. In addition, some sedatives may be habit-forming or may interact with other drugs to cause serious medical problems.

Stimulants (substances that cause a person to feel more energetic or awake) are often effective in treating narcolepsy. The drug known as clonazepam is used to treat restless legs syndrome. Benzodiazepines are used for children with sleep terror disorder or sleepwalking because they help the child sleep more soundly.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is used when sleep disorders are caused by emotional problems. Patients are helped to understand the nature of their problems and to find ways to solve or to live with those problems. To the extent this treatment is successful, the patient’s sleep disorders may be relieved.

Sleep Education

Researchers now know a great deal about the sleep process. By learning about that process, and changing their behavior patterns, patients may overcome some forms of sleep disorder. Some general guidelines that can help people sleep better include the following:

  • Wait until you are sleepy before going to bed.
  • Avoid using the bedroom for work, reading, or watching television.
  • Get up at the same time every morning, no matter how much or how little you have slept.
  • Get at least some physical exercise every day.
  • Avoid smoking and avoid drinking liquids that contain caffeine.
  • Limit fluid intake after dinner.
  • Learn to meditate or practice relaxation techniques.
  • Do not stay in bed if you can’t fall asleep. Get up and listen to relaxing music or read.

Lifestyle Changes

Some types of sleep disorders can be relieved by changing one’s lifestyle. For example, people with sleep apnea should stop smoking if they smoke, avoid alcohol and drugs, and lose weight to improve the function of their airways. People who experience circadian rhythm sleep disorders should try to adjust their travel or work patterns to allow time to adjust to new day/night patterns. Children with nightmare disorder should not watch frightening movies or television programs.

Surgery

Surgery is the treatment of last resort for sleep apnea, perhaps the only type of sleep disorder that is life-threatening. Combined with other factors, such as obesity, it can cause death. In such cases, surgery may be required to open up the patient’s airways and make breathing easier.

Alternative Treatment

Stress may be responsible for a number of forms of sleep disorder. Alternative treatments that teach people how to reduce stress in their lives can be very helpful. These treatments may include acupuncture, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and hypnotherapy. Homeopathic practitioners recommend a variety of substances to treat insomnia caused by various factors. They suggest Nux vomica for insomnia caused by alcohol or drugs, Ignatia for insomnia caused by grief, Arsenicum for insomnia caused by fear or anxiety, and Passiflora for insomnia related to mental stress.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine also have a range of herbs for the treatment of sleep disorder. The substance recommended depends on the particular type of disorder. For example, the magnetic mineral known as magnetite is recommended for insomnia caused by fear or anxiety.

Dietary changes may also help relieve some sleep disorders. Patients should avoid any food that contains caffeine or other stimulants. Such foods include coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate. Some botanical remedies that may help a person relax and get a good night’s sleep include valerian, passionflower, and skullcap.

Prognosis:
Prognosis depends on the specific type of sleep disorder. In most cases, children outgrow sleep disorders such as nightmares and sleep terror disorder. Other conditions tend to be chronic. Narcolepsy, for example, is a life-long condition. Relatively few forms of sleep disorder represent life-threatening medical conditions. Sleep apnea is one of the few examples.

Possible Complications:
A complication is dependence upon sedatives or other medications prescribed for sleep disorders.

Prevention:
Maintaining regular sleep habits and a quiet sleep environment may prevent some sleep disorders.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000800.htm
http://www.faqs.org/health/Sick-V4/Sleep-Disorders.html

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